New beginnings

Mountain View students, staff ready to start fresh

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2007


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  Mountain View Elementary School kindergarten teacher Mary Fischer welcomes Savannah Gjovig and her mother, Desiree, to her classroom during an open house Tuesday night. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Abby Short finishes work on a decorative tile students were asked to complete before leaving the open house. The tiles will be assembled later into a mural in front of the school.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Transferring a kindergarten classroom from one school to another is no easy task. After teaching in the same room at Sears Elementary School for 19 years, Kathy Atkinson brought 220 boxes of teaching supplies to Room 4 at Mountain View Elementary School.

"It's a good change," Atkinson said. "It's still exciting."

Moving to Mountain View Elementary not only means Atkinson will start over in a new classroom, she'll be reunited with her former students who have gone on to third, fourth and fifth grade.

"(I'll) get to see you so much," she said as she gave third-grader Rowan Patterson, 8, a hug. "I met her when she was five and she's just as beautiful as ever."

Mountain View Elementary School kicked off its first school year as a kindergarten through fifth-grade school Tuesday with a Kenaitze drum ceremony, an open house and tile-making. New students and parents got to meet their teachers for the first time and see the desks they will be sitting in, while returning students connected with old friends.


Mountain View Elementary School kindergarten teacher Mary Fischer welcomes Savannah Gjovig and her mother, Desiree, to her classroom during an open house Tuesday night.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Optimism and excitement dominated the event as parents either pulled, or were dragged by, their children from classroom to classroom. Five-year-old Riley pulled his mother, Michelle Graves, of Kenai, around Room 4 by the hand as he inspected his new class. Graves said she's excited and looking forward to seeing her son learn to read, write and be with kids his own age, but misses Sears.

"I went to Sears when I was in kindergarten," she said, adding that her kindergarten teacher's name was Mrs. Arness. "It's kind of sad that he didn't get to go, (but) it'll be just fine."

Since Sears Elementary was consolidated into Mountain View, enrollment has increased more than school administrators were expecting. John Cook, Mountain View's principal, said the school district expected roughly 388 students enroll this year and wound up with 441.

"Kenai public school registration is up," he said. "(It's) an opportunity to meet past friends, new students and get to know families."

Cook said the consolidation between Sears and Mountain View also allows community services such as Central Peninsula Counseling Services and the Kenaitze Indian Tribe's Nakenu Family Center to get involved with the students, teachers and parents.

"Kenai sees Mountain View as an excellent choice," he told parents, students and community members at the opening ceremony, encouraging them to get involved with Mountain View. "School is about the people. It's about the kids, it's about the parents and it's about the staff."

Many of the new kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers are happy with Mountain View's layout. The school is separated into two wings, with kindergarten through second grade at one end and third through fifth grade at the other. Barbara Ralston, who taught first grade at Sears Elementary since 1988, said the move to Mountain View wasn't too hard because she's had to change classrooms several times at Sears.

"We always were real close at Sears and I feel it will be the same here," she said. "Even though we're in separate wings we're still able to do things with the older grades."

Ralston said the older students will be able to tutor the younger students in reading, math and science.

"Coming here and setting up a new room is exciting and fun," she said, adding that the Parent Teacher Association provided a T-shirt for every student in the school. "(It took) a lot of work and everyone's made it a successful opening."

One of the challenges Atkinson, Ralston and their colleagues face this year is the integration of a new math curriculum. After integrating a new reading curriculum last year, Mountain View's teachers are eager for their students to succeed.

"My goal is that everybody succeeds to their potential and beyond," Ralston said. "And to meet every child's needs and goals."

After 32 years of teaching, Atkinson said she's nearing retirement, but each new year brings changes, like the consolidation, and new students, making it difficult for her to set a date.

"Every year is so new, it's hard for me to say maybe (in) two more years. I can't get myself to do it," she said. "I wish everyone could have a job where they get a new beginning."

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at

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